Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-12-12
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT A Tudor opera tangle for mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton knew that she would need plenty of plain old luck on top of her considerable talents to forge a career as a professional opera singer. But in Barton's case, winning a number of impressive opera vocal competitions particularly helped.

"For me the three big launching points in my career have been because of competitions," said Barton, back again in the Windy City rehearsing her role debut as Giovanna Seymour ( Jane Seymour ) in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's new co-production with Minnesota Opera of Donizetti's 1830 tragedy Anna Bolena ( Anne Boleyn ).

While she was still a student working on her master's degree at Indiana University, Barton competed to become a winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York. But Barton was doubly lucky to win that particular year because it coincided with the filming of a high-profile documentary called The Audition focused on the annual competition. The shared win with rising colleagues like soprano Amber Wagner and tenor Alek Shrader not only helped to put a then-unknown Barton on the international opera map, it was captured in high-definition for future posterity.

"It still manages to bring publicity to me," Barton said. "Even today people will come up to me and say, 'Ooh! I saw you in The Audition.'"

Barton's prize-winning ways continued as a recipient of a 2012 Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. But most impressively Barton won both the biennial BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2013 and its concurrent World Song Prize dedicated to piano-accompanied recital pieces. Barton is the first woman to win both prizes in the history of the 30-year competition, and only the second singer ever to do so after Romanian tenor Marius Brenciu triumphed with the same two prizes in 2001.

"Since then, life has just been completely different," Barton said about her career post-Cardiff. "It's not even the same ball game."

Barton, a native of Rome, Georgia, made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in 2011 as the offstage voice of Antonia's mother in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann. Her other Lyric appearances include small supporting roles as a nymph in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos in 2011 and as Magdalene in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in 2013.

But now Barton is taking on a far juicier role as Jane Seymour, who was wooed to be the third wife of King Henry VIII as he was looking to do away with his second wife, Anne Boleyn.

"This one is very difficult to sing. It's very high—sopranos have done it, though it is traditionally cast with a mezzo-soprano," Barton said. "For me it's a lot of mental focus to make sure I'm singing correctly because it's such emotional music and such emotional text. My character from the moment she steps on stage is in emotional turmoil. It's really easy to let that creep into the voice, but that's the first thing that will make you crash and burn as a singer."

Barton doesn't necessarily see Jane Seymour as the villain of the piece—that would most definitely be Henry VIII, played by Canadian bass-baritone John Relyea. But Barton said even the title heroine ( played by St. Charles native Sondra Radvanovsky ) has her flaws, too.

"[Director Kevin Newbury] is making a real effort to bring this back down to the human element, to not make it so black and white," Barton said. "There are so many shades of gray and that's what makes it interesting."

Barton herself revealed a very personal aspect of her life when she came out as bisexual via her professional Twitter account on National Coming Out Day. Although she initially identified as straight, "It just so happened that I fell in love with someone and she happened to have indoor plumbing instead of outdoor plumbing," Barton said with a laugh.

"Being an ally for so long, having so many gay friends in the community, I mean, Hello, I'm an opera singer, I knew within a shadow of a doubt that coming out would not be a problem to my friends," Barton said. "Of course I was a little nervous about coming out to my family. But really I had a very easy time of it."

"My father who I was most worried about, not because I didn't think he would accept me because I knew that he would, I just wasn't sure about how long it would take him to come around to being comfortable with it," Barton said. "It took him approximately 2 and a half seconds. My family is all from the South, so he went, 'Well, I love 'ya. Ain't nothing gonna change it.'"

Career-wise, two prominent future engagements for Barton include her first Fricka ( the Norse queen of the gods ) in Wagner's Die Walküre for Houston Grand Opera next April, then the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra premiere of The Work at Hand: Symphonic Songs for Cello and Mezzo-soprano by gay composer Jake Heggie in May. But for now Barton is happy to be back in Chicago with a company that she says that has always been very welcoming for her.

"This company and this city is just fantastic to be in. The company is like a family and it's almost like a family reunion coming in for the first days of rehearsals," Barton said. "It's a hugs-all-around kind of place."

The Lyric Opera of Chicago's new co-production of Anna Bolena plays eight performances at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 9, 15, Jan. 7, 10 and 16 with 2 p.m. matinees Dec. 12 and 21. Performances are sung in Italian with projected English translations. Tickets are $20-$299; call 312-827-5600 or .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Cavalcade of Queens take over Holiday Land in Visual Album, The Holiday Dragtacular 2018-12-14 - December 17th, 2018 ( New York )- XS Studio brings you a stocking stuffed-holiday special from some of your favorite queens: Peppermint, Pandora ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Rent,' Ariana Grande, Lena Waithe, Elton John 2018-12-11 - Fox has announced the full cast for the upcoming live musical event Rent, which will air Sunday, Jan. 27, a press release noted. ...

Gay News

Gay chorus, LGBTQ groups mark holidays 2018-12-11 - Dec. 2 marked the finale of the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus' ( CGMC's ) three-day "Holiday Hullabaloo" run. Partnering onstage with 10 other ...

Gay News

Carlo Chappelle, born to sing 2018-12-11 - "Carlo is somebody who loves to sing with every ounce of his body," said Beckie Menzie. "There are people who sing because they ...

Gay News

Grammy Award-winning artist Common to perform with CSO June 2019 2018-12-10 - CHICAGO—The League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association ( CSOA ) presents its 30th annual Corporate Night benefit concert on Monday, June 3, ...

Gay News

Carlile, Monae, Lamar get Grammy nods 2018-12-07 - The 2019 Grammy nominations were announced Dec. 8—and rapper Kendrick Lamar led everyone with eight nominations. Drake scored seven, and lesbian Brandi Carlile ...

Gay News

'We Are Family' Pride Event to Benefit Chicago House Dec. 12 2018-12-05 - CHICAGO—Revolution Brewing, Chicago's largest independent brewer, is rolling out the dance floor on Wednesday, Dec. 12 for its inaugural We Are Family fundraiser ...

Gay News

Event focuses on revolutionary Cuban punk-rock band 2018-12-05 - Nonprofit arts and education group QUEER, ILL AND OKAY brought a neglected component of Cuban history to the mainstage with a screening and ...

Gay News

Elton John tribute show Dec. 8 2018-12-05 - On Saturday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Gallery 1070 Auxillary Building, 1101 W. Granville Ave., the Edgewater Artitsts in Motion will ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Handmaid,' Kristen Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis 2018-12-04 - Margaret Atwood is currently writing a sequel to her best-selling dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale, noted. Due out in September 2019 from ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.